Women in Leeds are being urged not to delay taking part in cervical screening during the coronavirus pandemic through the launch of a new safety video.
Cancer Wise Leeds, a programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and delivered in partnership with Leeds Cancer Programme, has produced the Safe Screening for Cervical Cancer video to help address worries about attending screening appointments and raise awareness of the safety measures that GP practices have introduced.
This comes as health and care organisations across the city get behind the annual Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (18-24 January 2021).
Cervical screening saves lives by detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, allowing them to be treated before they become cancer. It is available for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64.
Screening was paused during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but services are back up and running across Leeds with Covid-secure measures in place, such as social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.
However, recent data shows that participation in screening across Leeds has dropped to 70.6%¹. This is a 3.7% drop from October 2019.
Dr Andrew Robinson, GP at Garforth Medical Practice, said: “We are hearing from women that they are worried about accessing their GP and other health services due to the coronavirus and about putting a strain on the NHS. These fears are leading to more women not attending their cervical cancer appointment. It is incredibly important that you attend your cervical screening when invited and aren’t put off by coronavirus or by concerns about the capacity of the NHS.”
Lisa Hammond, Cancer Wise Leeds Screening and Awareness Coordinator said: “Our new video shows the experience of going for cervical screening during the pandemic from a patient’s perspective, so people know what to expect and can be reassured about their safety.”
Women should take part in cervical screening even if they are not sexually active at the moment or have had the HPV vaccine. This also applies to trans men and non-binary people with a cervix.
Women in Leeds experiencing discomfort or symptoms of cervical cancer should seek urgent advice from their doctor’s surgery or call 111.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- abnormal bleeding during sex, between periods or after the menopause
- discomfort during sex
- back pain
- unusual cervical discharge
Residents of Leeds who are currently shielding should seek advice from their healthcare provider on the benefits of being screened.
For more information about the measures in place to enable you to be safely screened, please visit the Cancer Wise Leeds YouTube channel. If you are worried about screening, please talk to your doctor or practice nurse.
1. CCG Business Intelligence Unit. Citywide data showing the number of women screened out of the eligible population. September 2020.